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An Artist by Accident

Athanasia Houvarda

Who I am 

My name is Athanasia which in Greek means immortal. I am a speaker, an artist, and an advocate for road safety and burn trauma. I was born in the UK in 1978. I have spend my whole life in Thessaloniki, Greece, and since 2016, I have been traveling between Greece and Canada, where I happily live with my new husband, workplace safety expert Dan Plexman

A little about the past that allowed me to discover my purpose.

I started my entrepreneurial journey at 19, running my first baking business that soon blossomed into another shop, promising me a prosperous and secure future.  In 2001, I watched my life change in one split second. I was involved in a horrific car accident where I lost two close friends; I came out with severe injuries and was close to losing my life. My body suffered 74% of 3rd and 4th-degree burns. After a few long months in the ICU and countless surgeries, I finally beat the odds, and my life was no longer in danger. My mental health, though, was challenged when reality hit me hard.  ​ 

The news of my friend's passing devastated me. Fragments of my old self while looking in the mirror shattered me. My rehabilitation was long and arduous, requiring more surgeries, long hours of physiotherapy, and a lot of determination to not give up.  During the long road to recovery and with the goal of strengthening my injured hands, I learned the Art of embroidery and mosaic, and I experimented with other forms of Art. I tried painting. Even though painting and drawing were physically painful, I found the process to be a form of mental and emotional therapy. 

Sharing my love for life through my Art fascinates me. Bringing life to blank canvasses felt like I was coming back to life myself. This feeling gave me strength and the desire to develop my skills further. My Art journey has taken me from survivor to thriver. Today I am a proud member of the Greek Artists Association, and I am grateful for having my Art displayed in numerous exhibitions in Europe and Canada. It is truly fulfilling. Many of my paintings have found a home in Brazil, the US, Canada, and other countries across Europe. I am also a published artist and have been awarded by the Circle of Arts Foundation.  

 Life went on and brought me more challenges. Another health challenge, cancer. A tough decision to give up my business and get out of an emotional abusive relationship, my mental health was rechallenged. I felt like I lost my identity. I threw myself into Art. It was then that I truly experienced its emotional healing power.  ​ 

In 2017 I consciously decided to reinvent myself and start living a more purpose-driven life, and the real journey began!  ​ 

Since 2017 ​ 

I live by my motto, "it only takes one split second for reality to change," and I encourage you to make every second of your life meaningful.  

Since 2017, I have been collaborating with several institutions to motivate my audience to make the right choices regarding their safety on the road and also focus on their well-being. I am the host of the podcast called "Crash Victim Life Survivor" where my guests and I take the listeners through our experiences of surviving a car crash. From dealing with the possibility of hand amputations, I am teaching different healing Art techniques to help people express their feelings. I also help burn survivors find the confidence and courage to reinvent themselves.  

Speaking Topics ​ 

I talk about decision-making, life choices, resilience, road safety, dangerous driving, mental health and well-being. 

Through my presentation, I am sharing how my life was before, during, and after the crash. Why my accident happened and how it impacted everyone around me. All the challenges I faced, from being a healthy young girl to fighting for my life, facing feelings of guilt, depression, defeat, and some small victories along the long road to my recovery.

If you think I will be of value to your audience, I would love to hear from you! 

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